Animal Behavior

Behavioral Ecology

How do animals know which direction to travel?

The ability to navigate from one place to another is found among a diverse group of species from bats, salmon, locusts, and frogs to even bacteria. Animals use a variety of cues to find their way, including the position of the Sun, Moon, and stars, topographic features of the landscape, or even meteorological cues (for example, prevailing winds). But one idea in particular has gained more verification: animals using magnetic fields. For example, in 2012, scientists found that pigeons have “magnetic compasses” (also called biological compasses) in their brain cells that allow them to detect the Earth’s magnetic field and thus determine direction.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Biology Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App